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Full text of "Mental hygiene for pupil and teacher. A lecture delivered before the Normal School at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, August 4, 1877"

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Sir Philip Sidney says, " This purifying of wit, this enrich- 
ing of memory, ennobling of judgment, and enlarging of con- 
ceit, which commonly we call learning, under 'what name it 
come forth, or to what immediate end soever it be directed, 
the final end is to lead and draw us to as high a perfection as 
our degenerate souls, in their clay lodgings, can be capable 

It is no less than a wonderful spectacle when the people of 
a great State deliberately set themselves to the task of the 
diffusion of learning — when, with touching and magnificent 
self-forgetfulness, the leaders of thought, the instructors of the 
young from every portion of a broad commonwealth, come 
together to teach and to learn, that the children of a new gene- 
ration may be made wiser and happier, in a truer and greater 

The moral effect of such a scene as is here presented, has 
already made a profound impression upon our people for their 
lasting good. 

Grateful for the privilege of being one with you if for a 
few brief hours, it is with pride and pleasure that your speaker 
would recall the fact that the tasks, the sorrows, and the joys 
of a teacher were once his own, in days that have never been 
forgotten. I claim, therefore, that our sympathies are one. I 
do not come to amuse you with flights of fancy or to weave 
roses of rhetoric, (were it in my power,) to pelt the imagina- 
tion into the soft slumber of poetic vision. 

I come to talk plainly, as one friend to another, of some 
things that lie, half-hidden, on the sombre side of life. Yet, 

4 Mental Hygiene for 

they are matters that it behooves us to consider before it be 
too late. 

The Prussian educator says of that subject which is the 
object of your aims, "A complete education is the harmonious 
and equal evolution of all the poAvers of mind and body." 

Of mind — yes, but of body, none the less. To disjoin them, 
is to divorce the marriage that God has made forever. Noth- 
ing but harm ever came of that defiance of law. 

The Greeks understood the value of cultivating the body. 
Fostered by their national festivals, the gymnast and the 
geomatrician stood upon equal ground for the plaudits of the 
assembly, and it is no wonder that they left for the astonish- 
ment of mankind, the matchless Iliad of Homei-*in token of 
intellectual strength, and alike the Venus of Milo, most exquis- 
ite type of physical grace and beauty that the world has ever 

In the lapse of time, while we gained immeasurably in the 
knowledge of nature, in the development of scientific thought 
and expression, and in a far wider and greater degree, in the 
culture of the moral and religious sentiments, the knowledge 
of the body has been sorely neglected, and by the Americans, 
of all peoples existing. 

What a change in systems of instruction since the days of 
Melanchthon. How strange it seems to us that Terence and 
Plautus, and Homer and Thucydides were the daily mental 
food of students in those times at the University of Wettem- 
berg, who yet were totally ignorant of the very rudiments of 
mathematical science. How quaint is the address of one of 
the professors who, at the inaugural of his labors, entreats his 
students not to be frightened by the difficulties of arithmetic. 

" The first elements of arithmetic," said he, " are easy. The 
learning of multiplication and division demand more diligence, 
but they can be grasped by the attentive without much 

In 1536, Melanchthon, who was professor of Greek, attempted 
to lecture on the astronomical works of Ptolemy, but to his 
amazement the students disappeared before he finished the 
first book, leaving him alone, save one or two, whom he sweetly 
thanked for their fortitude. 

PuriL AND Teacher. 6 

It throws a curious side-light upon education three centu- 
ries ago to know that the learned defender of culture and reli- 
gion, Luther's great brother as a Reformer, was an ardent be- 
liever in astrology, not only in theory, but faithfully followed 
the dictates of its dreamers. 

One of the greatest of scientific physicians has justly said : 
" A scientific discovery is a very good thing in its way, but it 
is only a means to an end after all — the improvement of man's 
estate. He who gives lofty utterance to human sympathies, 
and infuses nobler aspirations into men, who leads with success 
to sublime self-sacrifice and duty to oiir neighbor — these are 
brighter stars in the firmament of human genius than the dis- 
coverer in science." 

So long as man sees splendor in the starry Heavens, beauty 
in the aspects of Nature, grandeur and glory in self-renuncia- 
tion, so long will he feel that his brief conscious life is but a 
momentary wavelet on the vast ocean of the unconscious; that 
there is in him the yearning of something deeper than knowl- 
edge, which " Cometh from afar," and which the labored acqui- 
sitions of science will ever fail to satisfy. 

Maudsley, who has sounded the depths of the human mind 
as hardly plummet of man ever did before, has said: "The 
impulses of evolution, which move the world, come not from 
the intellect, but from the heart, and he who would work upon 
the hearts of others must speak to them from the heart." 

I beg, while surrendering the domain of the iyitellectucd and 
the moral to your accomplished professors, to talk to you of 
the culture of the body, and more especially of the crown and 
flower thereof, the brain, dwelling place of the immortal spirit 

When does the education of the body begin ? Doubtless 
with the first dawnings of life. Dr. Seguin says it has already y 
begun in the cradle, when the mothers place their badies to 
lie upon the right side, because they sleep more profoundly 
thus. That is the case, says he, because the heart is relieved 
thus from some of the blood pressure. There is an accumula- 
tion of blood in the left hemisphere of the brain, the right 
being compressed by the weight. Thus there isgreater nu- 
trition of nerve substance in the left brain, (and so by the 


6 Mental Hygiene for 

crossing of the nerves respectively from the hemispheres) 
there is established early in life, in most persons, an increase 
of strength to all the muscular powers of the right side. There 
may be something fanciful in the theory, but doubtless there 
is a modicum of truth. 

Dr. Fonerden tells us, "The infant is an animal with the 
faculty of becoming rational. It may be so ignorantly man- 
aged that this glorious faculty will be almost extinguished. 
Every habit which a child acquires, even of a purely bodily 
nature, has its effect on the brain for good or for ill. If those 
habits are not bent into order by the rational mind of an adult, 
it must happen that being of an instinctive or animal nature, 
their influence on the young brain will be to keep it propor- 
tionately in the animal conditio* 

" Notice the expression of the face of a child when indulg- 
ing in a bad habit, even of a simple character, as of biting the 
nails or sucking the thumb. A single act plainly shows the 
modifying of the influence flowing from the brain to the face. 

"The principal part of the Decalogue is a warning not to 
practice sinful habits which debase the hody, the brain., the 
mind. How to bend the habits of children into order is a 
science and art to be thoroughly learned only in the steady 
and rational experience of a mind that is bending its own hab- 
its aright in obedience to the Divine will." 

Maudsley says, happily, " The way to the chambers of the 
mind is through the ante-chamber of the body." 

The laws of hygiene for pupil and teacher should be of pri- 
mary consideration, in systems of education. You will have 
doubtless heard from lips admirably qualified, the great prin- 
ciples of physiology, tlie exquisite adaptations of the senses, 
and the general rules of physical well-being. It is to what 
may be termed Mental Hygiene, that I more especially ask 
your attention, and yet that subject is itself so interwoven 
with the demands of ordinary school hygiene, that we must 
I'apidly note some of the salient points. 

I shall take the liberty to talk plainly. When the school is 
organized, begin aright. See that the surroundings are made 
fit for a temple of instruction. The school room must not 
only be swept, but its immediate grounds kept in cleanly con- 

Pupil and Teachek. 7 

ditioii. The water supplj' should be abundant, and its quality 
ascertained before locating the school. An ample play ground 
for children should be provided, and larger students can easily 
be encouraged to improvise for themselves the essential parts 
of a gymnasium, when practicable. 

Within, the first consideration is pure air — when taken di- 
rectly from Nature's laboratory, it is the most important food 
of the body; if only obtained from the breath of another, it is 
poison. Remember, that a hogshead of blood per hour is 
pouring through the heart, and carr3dng life and vigor to the 
brain in millions of vivified blood cells, or bearing along the 
dead and decaying blood disks that have starved in a moment, 
from a denial of that momentary food upon which we feed, as 
we inhale the well named " breath of life." 

I need not linger upon this familiar topic. Ventilation is 
essential — there are many ingenious methods builders now un- 
derstand, of accomplishing it. But if you do nothing better, 
lower the tops of the windows, and make apertures through 
the bottom sash, not raising it where draughts would be 
caused. When recess comes, insist that students shall go into 
the open air, and let doors and windows then be freely opened. 

The black boards should be kept in good order, and accumu- 
lations of chalk removed. How many teachers of strong- 
physique, have died of what is truly the miner's consumption, 
by breathing an atmosphere of chalk dust, from the boards 
near their desks, raised in a cloud by the flourishing sheep-skin 
rubber It is well, too, to keep a bottle of bromo-chloralum 
or of chloride of lime at hand, in the small room or closet for 
school room accessories, that should always be j)rovided. This 
will be especially useful, should it be feared that the seeds of 
contagious disease are in the school. Carbolic soap will be 
found useful. Let any pupil with a serious contagious affec- 
tion be removed at once, and if any doubt arises, a physician 
should be called in. Do not allow your timidity to risk whoop- 
ing cough or mumps or dyphtheria, or painful and disgusting 
diseases of the skin, to be fastened upon the whole school. Do 
not allow the muscles to become strained by rigid requirements 
as to position, especially in regard to the young. Remember, 
you do not deal with machines. Encourage exercise at the 

8 Mental Hygiene eok 

recesses, in pleasant recreation. Simple walking does not ac- 
complish the object. The mind should be thoroughly diverted 
from the previous labor. 

Do not yield to the mistaken demand of some communities 
for excessive length of confinement at teaching in the school- 
room. It is better even to suffer a little, until this relic of 
ignorance passes away. All things considered, the best posi- 
tion for a school-room, is facing the west, the pupils being 
seated so that the light from the southern windows is direct, 
but is admitted over the left shoulder. Some sun-light direct 
is of good theraputic value. 

Where teachers have charge of boarding schools, there are 
many matters of great importance, were this a fitting place 
and time to discuss them. Beware of allowing new students 
who have led active lives, enter too closely upon sedentary oc- 
cupation at once. Dyspepsia may set in with all its train of 
attendant evils. It may unhappily be the case, at the evolu- 
tion of womanhood, that a pupil may show evident signs of 
the onset of phthisis or consumption. Have the courage to 
persuade the parents to take her from school and give her 
what open air life she can bear, with as little sedentary occu- 
pation as possible. At any rate, do not place a healthy girl to 
sleep with her. 

The teeth of young persons at boarding schools should be 
duly cared for, in the absence of parents. They are often, 
when neglected, the source of great damage to body and 

A proper system of Calisthenics, to develope strength and 
grace and beauty, is amadmirable adjunct to schools for young 
ladies. It might be readily enforced by strong illustrations, 
were it needful to dwell on this point. It is time to build up 
again the constitution of American girls. Most English women 
are said to be in the prime of strength and beauty at forty 
years of age. Can that be said of our own ? 

The subject of undue compression of the waist has been so 
often brought to public attention, that I will simply say that 
one of its unfortunate effects, arising from the difference of 
the resisting power of the two sides of the body, is the lateral 
curvation of the spine, and elevation of one shoulder. This is 

Pupil and Teacher. 9 

equally true of young gentlemen, even of cadets with tight 
fitting military clothing, but without suspenders. Distressing 
cases of hysteria will sometimes occur. The subject is to be 
pitied, not scolded, even where it seems to be affected; remem- 
bering that the simulation is characteristic of the real disease. 
Such a patient needs medical treatment. Nature may be warn- 
ino- us to save her child from mental overthrow. 

It cannot be too solemnly insisted upon, that in every semi- 
nary for young ladies or young men, there should be some one 
of the faculty whose official duty it should be to care for the 
health of the pupils, and insist upon attention to hygiene. 
Nor would I perform my duty if I did not here declare that 
such a teacher ought to so acquaint himself with sufficient 
medical knowledge as to be able to detect and break up vicious 
habits that destroy body and mind. If speedy reformation be 
not secured, then let the offender be promptly cut off, lest he 
taint the pure. A judicious physician may prove a valuable 
friend here. 

Food for pupil and teacher is best when simple and unstimu- 
lating. No need in the faithful teacher for stimulation of an 
already hard-worked and over stimulated body and mind. 
The handsome peasantry of England, the country folk of 
Cheshire, live on potatoes and butter milk. The quantity 
should vary with the amount of bodily exercise; and hard 
study should not be required immediately after the dinner 
hour. Begin with the lighter studies. 

In the country, pupils sometimes study from the book while 
walking to school. Discourage it. Let the pupil reach the 
school-room fresh from observing nature, and ready for mental 
work in another form. 

In regard to the want of care in the use of the eyes. Dr. C. 
R, Agnew has lately made investigations in regard to short 
sight in students in the schools of Cincinnati, New York and 
Brooklyn. ' Of the 630 Cincinnati pupils, 10 per cent, of the 
primary or district schools were near-sighted; 14 per cent, of 
the intermediate; and 16 per cent, of the pupils of the high 

The 549 students in New York were in the New York Col- 
lege, attended by an older class of pupils. In the preparatory 

10 Mental Hygiene foe 

class 29 per cent, were found near-sighted; in the Freshman, 
about 40 per cent.; in the Sophomore, a similar state of things; 
and in the Junior, no less than 56 per cent, were near-sighted; 
and only 37 per cent, had entirely natural eyes. Similar re- 
sults were observed in Brooklyn. It is evident that this in- 
creasing proportion was the result of their habits of life. Simi- 
lar examinations in the schools of Berlin had shown the same 
general results. 

With eyes of a certain congenital weakness, this is the result 
of prolonged study by bad or wavering light, and with books 
held closely before the eyes. 

It is a mistake that the use of spectacles should be restricted 
to the old. An eye that becomes painful, (says the distin- 
guished Dr. Chisholm) when used upon near objects, and 
gives no discomfort M'hen not closely employed, requires physi- 
cal, not medical help. 

The intraocular muscles act upon the lens of the eye, as you 
know, to accommodate it to various distances. When too 
weak for their labor, as after an attack of scarlet fever or 
dyphtheria, they suffer even as greater muscles would. The 
child may appear strong, but after a few moments reading, the 
letters are blurred and run together, and pain and general ner- 
vous irritation result from the effort of the strained muscles. 
How many unhappy little innocents have been censured and 
punished for what they were unable to help. The child may 
even be sent to school on horseback, to save the fatigue of the 
great muscles of the body, in a gentle walk, while the worse 
fatigue of these incomparably delicate muscles is all unknown. 
The use of a proper glass will give a mechanical rest to the 
muscles, which recover their strength finally with the general 
tone of the system. 

Dr. G. L. Stevens, of Albany, in a recent valuable medical 
paper, says with force, that certain forms of visual trouble, 
and some of the functional nervous disorders, seem to stand in 
the relation of cause and effect. It is hardly necessary, per- 
haps, to explain that in the normal eye, there are ciliary pro- 
cesses or muscles which operate to aid the lens in properly re- 
fracting the rays of light from objects as they may be distant 
or near by. There are also motor muscles attached to the eye, 

Pupil an^d Teacher. 11 

for moving it, and also to aid convergence of the rays. There 
is a certain amount of labor forced upon hypermetropic or far- 
sighted eyes, to examine objects close by. 

Now, it has been found that sometimes the work of the 
muscles of accommodation, so to speak, may be performed for 
six inches, for example, while those of convergence may exe- 
cute theirs for twelve inches, creating confusion of nervous 
impulse and distress. Disappointment is the result, and dis- 
appointment anywhere in the animal economy is revenged 
upon the brain. The poor brain, which has no vicorious or- 
gan, must suffer for the rest. 

"Let those," says Dr. Stevens, " who think slightly of the 
pain, vertigo, and nausea accompanying this trouble, attempt 
to study the landscape with the spectacles of a near sighted 
person, or to read for half an hour with strong convex glasses, 
and they will be painfully conscious of the sad effects. 

Astigmatism is a term given to the inability, by reason of 
want of equal refractive power in the various portions of the 
eye, to bring the lines of objects to an accurate focus, giving 
rise, therefore, to special and labored efforts of the eye to 
accomplish it. 

It has been found that numbers of persons affected with 
chorea, (or St. Vitus' dance) and other nervous diseases, are 
astigmatic. Prof. Donders, of Utricht, has devised apparatus 
to relieve this unfortunate defect. Already many instances 
are on record of relief from various nervous maladies by the 
use of the delicate appliances of the oculists. This is indeed a 
triumph of science worth rejoicing over. It is said that this 
affords the explanation of the strange appearance of the last 
paintings of Turner, the celebrated artist. He had become 
the subject of ocular disease, and his pictures progressively 
displayed narrowness and perpendicularity of objects until 
they became utter confusion to the eyes of others, while to 
himself they seemed his masterpieces, some of which he re- 
fused to part with. The application of modern apparatus, on 
examining these misshapen works, reveals the harmony and 
beauty that existed only for him, and explains also the malady 
that broke forth in irritability in the later years of his life. 

l2 Mental Hygiene for 

The effect upon nervous headache induced by strain of the 
eye, of relief through the proper glasses, is magical. One 
thing should be said in courtesy to the distinguished specialty 
of oculists in the medical profession. To consult a watch- 
maker who sells spectacles to advise you as to choice of glasses, 
is as much a relic of barbarism as to visit a hair cutter, as our 
forefathers did, for the bleeding that belongs to a siirgeon. 
Take care under whose advice you wear glasses, but do not 
scruple, whether young or old, to use them if relief be de- 

We might refer to the influence of bad management of the 
other senses, in the production of nervous diseases, if it were 
not needful to call your thoughts back to the teacher's sphere. 

You cannot fail, in studying the welfare of your pupils, to 
notice the effect of impatient tones on the ear. Here is where 
the influence of the teacher tells powerfully on the moral emo- 
tions of the young. Cultivate a " noble state of the soul,'' 
■which will cause good will to man to fall from the lips. If a 
fretful disposition govern a man, or envy, jealousy, or any of 
the mean emotions, he cannot be happy, even in physical com- 
fort. " Bad company corru])ts good manners." Yes, we have 
written it, perhaps, many times. A peevish person renders all 
around him peevish. A truly pleasant person makes his com- 
panions so. A vicious man taints — an intellectual person im- 
proves those who are with him. Think of these things when 
you select your assistants. 

" Nothing is more important," said a man of science and 
experience, " than faith as an element of mental and moral 
health" — faith in the good and true in man; faith in the good- 
ness, truth, justice and daily guidance of a Heavenly Parent, 
to whom we owe obedience. 

The great mind which is to influence and control others, to 
give form to social institutions, and to advance with bold 
efforts, the general welfare of a people, derives no small part 
of its power from the faith that infuses its own being. That 
is the history of all great teachers, from Socrates to Arnold. 

Nothing is more fatal to tlie young than hypocrisy in their 
guardians and instructors. Let once distrust and doubt be 
awakened, or deception and falsehood veiled with the appear- 

Pupil and Teacher, 13 

ance of truth, and with unerring perception the child turns 
away, as into the desert, too often to become an Ishmaehte, 
whose hand is against every man. 

He who can neither trust in the goochiess or love of parent or 
teacher, drifts too often into the quicksands of skepticism. With 
no reasonable foundation for virtue in high principle, with no 
exemplar photographing truth daily upon his soul, he is ready 
to fly from extreme belief to extreme credulity— no extrava- 
gance is. too wild for him, if it be but in conflict with the regu- 
Tations of the doctrines that have no living faith for him— the 
very demand of his mental constitution for a belief m some- 
thing outside of daily life, leads him into dreams of the mar- 
velous and superstitious, and the acceptance of a thousand 
isms as the winds of bodily impulse may blow, until the barque 
of his infirm and weakened manhood is stranded on the high 
tide of a maniacal enthusiasm. 

Faith in the good and true is a sheet anchor of safety to the 


With parental hypocrisy, open skepticism, social emulation, 
ignorance and vice, and the characteristic American defiance 
of reverence or obedience, is it any wonder that " the sins of 
the parents are visited upon the children ?" 

" Many a time," says Dr. Geo. Cook, " have I heard the 
exclamation from lips writhing in mental anguish, " O that my 
parents had taught me the right way ; then I should not have 
been suffering this agony !" 

Dr. Cook was an experienced Superintendent of the Insane, 
who fell a martvr to the cause of humanity, having been slain 
by a patient in "the wards of his Asylum, less than one year 


« Home and school life are often governed by the one idea 
oi i^rogress s.i^d S2yeed. In short, the whole moral and intel- 
lectual machinery is geared to the utmost velocity within the 
possible compass of strong powers of endurance, and a clear 
and unobstructed pathway in life." Consequently, the weaker 
break down, and the strong sometimes dash against unseen 
obstacles with a shock that scatters the mind in disjointed 

14 Mental Hygiene fok 

Reckless ambition is stimulated, emulation is encouraged to> 
excess, envy is nourished, and anger is but a becoming exhibi- 
tion of spirit. The engineer who should run his train at sixty 
miles per hour,, with no break for checking the speed in case of 
accident, would be thought a madman ! How much better is 
the high-pressure system of training the young? How many 
are strewn by the wayside of our railroad life, wornout pre- 
maturelyj broken in mind and body ? To secure health and 
safety, should be the first step. Foreigners always remark the 
pale and thoughtful faces of our children at school. Espe- 
cially in children of brilliant nervous organization should the 
physical powers be cultivated, and the brain be kept subordi- 
nate. Let them, like Sir Isaac Newton, excel at foot-ball, 
rather than in declensions ; or like Scott, roam the fields and 
spear salmon; or Schiller, climb the forest trees to find the 
home of the lightnnig." 

American children are sent to school at too early an age, 
and too much is required of them. 

" The human body," says Alex. Bain, " is a great aggregate 
of organs or interests — muscles, digestion, respiration, senses, 
brain. Bodies are unequally constituted in the comparative 
strength of these powers, and in general nutrition, much is 
given unto that which already hath. On the physiological 
side, acquisition is a series of new nervous growth, the estab- 
lishment of a number of beaten tracks in certain lines of the 
cerebral substance. The exercise of acquired power is easier 
than its first conquest. Success in new acquirements is the 
work of rare and happy moments, when vigor of brain is abun- 
dant and well directed." 

If the words of this famous mental philosopher be true, 
over-work of the young brain simply defeats itself. It has 
already been suggested among educators of eminence in the 
cities of the Korth, that one defect in the system of the graded 
schools lies in requiring the young or the feeble members of a 
class to do the same work mentally as the strong and vigor- 
ous- Perhaps it may be sometimes the case that the tasks are 
set by the capacity of the quick and ambitious. The weaker 
pupil loses heart, falls back, and becomes a dead weight. 
Sometimes he is transferred to a lower class, which after awhile 

Pupil and Teacher, ^^ 

passe. Imn in the rnanner. With muscles kept still and 
Lhing for relief, the Inngs filled with impure an- until stupe- 
faction steals upon them, the braiu alone is funn.hed with oc- 
cupation. Those who do most of this head work, are further 
stimulated ''to do their best." No thought is often given to 
the necessity to balance muscular and nervous development. 
Pupils may break down and are taken away-the iron system 
works on. Sometimes from the very school-room the victim 
goes to the wards of an asylunu But insanity is very com- 
Ln-the young and old both have it; the public wonders and 

sorrows— and passes on. v ^ *^ ^.- 

I have in my remembrance a lovely girl who, excited to ex- 
cessive effort for examination and commencement day, from 
that very week, at the graduation of her school life became 
the inmate of an asylum and hopelessly insane. Endowed 
with remarkable talent, she played brilliantly her own compo- 
sition upon the piano. How sad to think that she was shut 
out froni the joys of the home circle forever, and divided by 
an impassable barrier from all humanity. It is no fancy sketch, 
but a true page from the life of a Carolina girl, known perhaps 
to some whom I address, who found an asylum in the Institu- 
tion at Raleigh. . 

The final outcome of the neglect of mental hygiene, both foi 
pupil and teacher, may be insanity. The remark is common, 
that the number of the insane is gradually increasing with every 
decade North Carolina is fortunate in having only one luna- 
tic in nine hundred of her population. States more thickly 
settled with the evil in their towns of over-crowding and over- 
I^muttion, have one insane person ^^ ^ve hundred; and he 
compound interest, one generation bequeaths an added legacy 
to L next. Why should it not be? What people on the 
face of the globe have taken such little care of the body as the 
receptacle of mind ? 

North Carolina is bad enough at the best, but we are moie 
fortunate than Massachusetts, because we are three-fourths 
ao-riculturists, living in the <.pen air, although violating many 
sanitary laws, and the physique of the — g^^^'7^;"f;;^^ 
the healthy regions of the State is far superior to that ot the 

16 Mesttal Hygiene fok 

thin, lantern-jaw, over-grown head and under-sized body of the 
operative of Lowell or Fall River. Nor need we wonder that 
isms of every kind, and riotous strikes of workmen, and wo- 
men's rights excitements prevail, where great bodies of men 
live and die, in absolute fever of the system. 

The legislator may decree the building of asylums — the 
physician may spend his life in the night watches by the bed 
of the unhappy maniac, in hope to restore. Alas! how often it 
is too late! It is your field,, parent and teacher, to prevent. 
Reform for the threatened undermining of the whole social 
fabric must come from you. 

Thei'e is a town in Belgium, the village of Gheel, the spot 
where tradition says a fair maiden was martyred by her own 
father for her refusal of his unholj^ wish. The shrine of the 
Saint is built by a si:)ring of healing waters, and a town has 
gathered around it, of the insane; for the most part harmless 
and incurable. The sane man is a lonely exception in this 
weird community, wandering in wild vagaries, or Ijang in the 
slumber of the demented. This sombre picture is but a pre- 
figuration of what will be found elsewhere, if parent and 
teacher do not arouse to their duty ; unless, indeed, the mer- 
ciful law of the gradual extinction of defective races, does not 
cut it off by death. 

Vicious indulgences, popular errors, improper training, in- 
temperance, not only in eating and drinking, but in business 
and in speech and thought — these be the avant-couriers of in- 
sanity. Perverted life and iiltimate disease are bitter fruits of 
negligence in early youth. 

Surround a child with stimulants to the nervous system — 
take away his faith and trust, which come to him not by jt)re- 
cept, but by example — leave liim to grope his own way among 
evil things — -must not such a course lead to moral and intel- 
lectual ruin ? 

The prophet hath told us, " It is good for a man that he 
bear the yoke in his youth." 

Patience and self-denial are essential to the healthy balance 
of mental power. Listen, ye teachers, who have so much of 
North Carolina's destiny in your hands — patience and self- 

Pupil and Teacher. 1*7 

denial never can be taught, save by example. Robert Burns 

wrote — 

"Reader, attend, whether thy soul 
Soars fancy's flight beyond the pole, 
Or darkling grubs this earthy hole. 

In low pursuit. 
Know prudent, cautious self-control 
Is wisdom's root." 

Poor fellow, he forgot his own precepts, as you know, and 
his unhappy death was traceable to exposure after a debauch. 

The love of home should be fostered, that in years to come 
the strong man may lean upon it in the hour of adversity or 
temptation. The delight in the home circle, and in its peace- 
ful and innocent joys, shields the young from innumerable 
moral contaminations that poison the remotest fountain of 
thought — destroying self-respect and impairing self-control. 

Says a noble physician for the insane: "As well might 
parents place their children in a frail boat, and launch them 
upon the rapids of a mighty river, and when they sink beneath 
the rushing waters, turn away with the reflection, ' It is the 
Lord's doing,' as to expose them to moral pollution during the 
years in which they instinctively receive the thoughts of 
others, and imitate their actions for good or evil, and attribute 
the result to Providence. 

It is to be observed of great importance, that the early pre- 
disposing causes of insanity are cumulative, the first being an 
entering wedge for those that follow. 

The evils of boarding life for the young in the family are 
many. Home love is one of the very sources of life and health. 

Be not strangers to the hearts of the children with you. 
How sad those words of a child when told to ask of his father 
some trifling favor: " I don't want to — I don't know father." 

Terrible commentary on the relation of parent and child. 

The subject of school discipline and punishment is of itself 
a field for a lecture. But two things I will advert to of im- 
portance, and charge you, as you value your peace of mind, 
never to countenance by your approval. 

Wherever corporal punishment is still adhered to, hy no 
means shoidd a blow he inflicted on the head. The scalp may 
not even be scratched, and yet a concussion of the soft mass of 

18 Mental Hygiene foe 

the brain may lay up future ruin for the child. This is not 
idle theory, but very solemn fact. 

I will relate in brief a case in point, mentioned by Dr. 
Wigan, in his work on the Duality of the Mind. He knew 
the parties personally. There were two brothers, affectionate 
and entirely devoted to each other from infancy, and never 
happy apart. One day their teacher gave the elder a blow on 
the head with a round ruler; the skin was not broken, but 
there was a slight depression. Soon the boy was observed to 
change. He seemed the victim of some delusion, in regard to 
the young and loving brother, whom he began to ill-treat and 
tyranize with great cruelty. Years of suffering ensued, and 
finally absolute mania appeared. 

Mr. Cline, a surgeon, persuaded the father to allow him to 
trephine, or cut out the button of the skull at the depression. 
It was done, and on raising the bone a spicula, broken by the 
concussion from the ruler, was found pressing on the brain. 
Recovery took place, and the ancient love of the brothers re- 
turned. I need. not multiply cases. 

Dr. Conally says, in regard to boys that indulge in petty 
thefts and falsehoods, with bulging foreheads and narrow occi- 
puts, and showing symptoms of chorea, or other muscular irri- 
tability, that it is very unwise to set them severe tasks and in- 
flict sore punishments. Too often, from that, they will begin 
to exhibit the stare of the eye as in catalepsey, stand fixed in 
one position for a long period; with puberty, epilepsy sets in, 
and the child is lost. The remedy in the beginning, is to inter- 
est the child in natural objects, and gradually to win its love. 
He who is unable to inspire regard, was not meant by Nature 
for a teacher. 

The other i-eference I would make in regard to discipline, is 
the terrible danger incurred when fright is employed to gov- 
ern — that is, the inducement of excessive fright in a child. It 
has often caused the outbreak of insanity and death. The 
books are filled with authentic cases. " A lady in the north of 
England went out to spend an evening, and the servants took 
advantage of her absence to hold a party. The nurse-maid, to 
get aw^ay from a child that would not remain in bed, dressed a 
figure and placed it at the foot of the bed, telling her it would 

Pupil and Teacher. 19 

corae and take her if she moved or cried. The mother return- 
ing earlier than she had intended, ran up to her chikl to find 
her eyes fixed in a stony stare upon the figure and quite dead. 

D. R., a youth of sixteen, was admitted insane into the New 
York Asyhxm at Utica, having instantly lost the power of 
speech and interest in anything, after having been chased by a 
person dressed to represent a corpse. 

In a market town of Yorkshire, a performing bear suddenly 
turned. and placed its paws upon tlie shoulders of a young 
woman, who was instantly frightened into insanity that was 

Insanity may appear at a very early period in life. Halluci- 
nations are quite possible to children either asleep or awake. 
The dwelling upon them and marshalling them into a definite 
drama has sad results — as in Hartley Coleridge. " Men like 
Coleridge cannot possibly have a will, because the re-action of 
their supreme nervous centre is not a definite aim-working voli- 
tional one, but it is prematurelj^ expended in the construction 
of toy works of the fancy." 

An illustration of the destructive madness of children whose 
fancy has been stimulated to run wild, is seen in the Children's 
Crusade to Jerusalem. Epileptic, choriac or suicidal attacks 
may occur; melancholia has been known, and children who 
committed suicide at eight or nine years of age, already world- 

Plato says, "A boy is the most vicious of all wild beasts;" 
and again, "A boy is better unborn than untaught." 

Milton says, "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered vir- 
tue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and 
sees her adversary, but slinks from the race where that immoi*- 
tal garland is to be run for, not without dust or heat." 

There is a vividness of perception in a child greater than in 
the adult, for almost the whole mental power at that age is 
consumed in the reception of images, and their reproduction 
by imagination. The sights he sees and the sounds he hears, 
in the dark, are very real to him. It is only in later life, as 
phantoms visit us in disease, that we can realize the force of 
these visions to the young and tender mind. There is intense 

20 Mental Hygiene tots, 

craving for sympathy in the young, and unusual patience in 
bearing the ills of sickness. 

Prof. Ordronaux says : " There is a margin of mental as 
well as physical health within which the functional pendulum 
may oscillate more or less rapidly, still without disturbance of 
the general economy. Such temperaments as Montaigne and 
Thomas Hood, endure the acutest bodily pangs with unruffled 
serenity, while Coleridge and De Quincy, di'iven to madness 
by excess of nervous sensibility, fly to palliatives of human art 
that kill while they cure." 

Beware then of tobacco, of opium, or any form of stimu- 
lants that leaves only a deeper horror of depression after it. 
This is especially important to teachers at the close of an ardu- 
ous year's labor, just before the final examination, or in the 
deep and profound depression that sometimes succeeds the end 
of the session in the first days of absolute rest. The great 
draught on the nervous system of a teacher proceeds, not from 
the purely physical labor of teaching, unless there is disease 
of the throat or lungs, or the entire body have fallen into an 
anaemic state, in which it is unfit for labor, but it comes from 
the obscure, but nevertheless certain loss of nerve force in the 
government of the school. The mind is strung to an uncon- 
scious tension to control other minds by moral influence, the 
subtle power of which passing from him through the long hours 
of the day, makes itself felt in every part of the school room. 
There are states of health, and moods of the minds, when the 
expenditure of nerve force re-acts with fearful effect. Teachers 
are, of necessity, despots at times, and the history of all great 
despots shows startling inequalities of cerebral action. May 
there not be a generalization to be drawn, that the mind which 
expends the will power so largely on the world of persons and 
things without, may at times suffer from inability to co-ordinate 
volition, with judgment in the government of itself? 

The intensification of the powers of thought upon one sub- 
ject induces reverie, says Ordronaux, and reverie is the first 
step to hallucination. St. Augustine, Chrysostom, Mohomet, 
Des Cartes Dante, Milton, Swedenborg, Paracelsus, Pascal, 
Luther, Lawrence, Sterne and rare Ben Johnson, were all suf- 

PtrpiL AND Teacher. 21 

ferers from hallucination, some of which were terrifying in 

Says Prof. Ordronaux, " The law of the regulation of the 
association of ideas is not entirely volitional. The weary phy* 
sician, (we may say also the teacher) with brain over-tasked 
and nerves unstrung, on the midnight couch may strive in vain 
to banish images of the thoughts upon which he has exhausted 
his talents the live long day. Useless the attempt to disperse 
these ghosts of the brain. The mighty business of the day 
hath mastered him. The Deity at whose shrine he has but too 
faithfully ministered, will not be sated yet, and the poor weary 
worshipper is compelled to repeat his intellectual sacrifice, 
happy enough when outraged nature drags him wounded from 
this alter into her temple of sleep and oblivion." 

Let there be no mistake in regard to the true character of 
mental strain. There is no doubt, says Dr. Richardson, that 
mental work, and hard mental work, is conducive to health 
and length of days. But it must be carried on with evenness 
and order. The brain is the most enduring of organs — the 
organ that admits most change, and requires most change — - 
the organ that can rest in parts when jaded, and work in parts 
not jaded, at one and the same time. The evil is from extreme 
strain on one particular set of nervous structures. 

In regard to excess of bi-ain labor in the young, it gives rise 
to direct disease of the brain by the deposite of tubucle, or to 
convulsive attacks, or to epilepsy. In cases less extreme, there 
is great weakness and irregularitj'' of mental power. One 
function seems to become supreme, as for example, abnormal 
powers of memory. Dr. Richardson knew a case of a young 
man who could learn fifty lines of Paradise Lost at a single 
reading. But when he went to the University, he was beaten 
by every student in acquiring detached facts, and in being able 
to reason from one fact to another. It required ten years pain- 
fully to unlearn his unnatural acquisition. Dr. Richardson 
was himself a teacher of large experience, and he declares 
against the special prize system, afllrming that he had never 
known a prize man to rise to extraordinary excellence in after 
life. Over work, therefore, defeats its own object — there is 
only the formation of a large child's brain, which never be- 

22 Mental Hygieh^k fok 

€omes the harmonious adult brain — wonderful in early life^ 
but pitiful in later years. Exhaustion of the nerves and brain 
in later life from over-work is often found in hard-worked 
teachers who have learned many facts and principles that the 
world does not know, and are constantly putting their knowl- 
edge into i:)ractice for others' sake, and seeing the faults of 
humanity, have learned to be inured to any surprise. They 
finally labor without enthusiasm, and even if high success be 
achieved, may break down in the struggle to preserve it amid 
the criticisms of those knowing nothing of the difhculties, 
think they could have managed better. Straining to keep in 
the front rank, the warning comes in the shape of a frequent 
demand for sleep and rest, in the midst of mental labor — such 
as the state of the poet Cowper ; disregarded, the heart soon 
beti'ays irregularities, intermittent pulse and arterial relaxation, 
or slow palsy creeps over the frame, or at this stage, some 
shock, physical or mental, precipitates sudden muscular para- 
lysis. It may be that some ordinary inflamatory disease sets 
in, and upon the depression, there is no reseiwe of nerve-force, 
the mental balance tips toward incoherency, and the patient 
has become insane. 

Its great frequency among the American people, and appa- 
rent alarming increase of proportion, rendei'S these words of 
warning especially needfuL It is eminently the mode of death 
for the thinker, and the great administrator. It spares neither 
an Agassiz in his lecture room, nor a Horace Gi'eely at the edi 
torial desk. 

Sleep is of vast importance to healthful brain action. Long 
continued wakefulness disorders the system ; the appetite be- 
comes impaired, the secretions diminished, the mind dejected ; 
then waking dreams occur and strange phantoms appear which 
are at first transient, but may possess the mind, and madness 

Drummond says : 

" Sleep, silence's child, sweet father of soft rest, 
Prince, whose approach peace to all mortals brings, 
Indifferent host, to shepherds and to kings, 
Sole comforter of minds which are oppressed ; 
Lo, by thy charming rod, all breathing things 
Lie slumbering, with forgetfulness possessed.'' 

Pupil and Teacher. 23 

Ketire early ; avoid a very soft bed — see that the room is 
well ventilated — do not lie in draughts of air— wear nothing 
tight about the neck— avoid tea or coffee late in the evening. 

Says Keats : 

*' What is more tranquil than a musk rose blowiug 
In a green island far from all men's knowing ? 
More healthful than the leafiness of dales ? 
More secret than a nest of nightingales ? 
More serene than Cordelia's countenance ? 
More full of visions than a high romance ? 
What, but thee, sleep ? soft closer of our eyes! 
Low murmur of tender lullabies." 

In Hugghis' Journal, quoted in Brewster's Life of Xewton ^ 
we are told that Sir Isaac Newton, after some observations to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury that indicated alienation of 
mind, was taken charge of by his friends who confined him to 
his house and applied remedies for the disorder. The cause 
seems to have been Avant of sleep. 

In 1803, on the 16th September, he wrote the following let- 
ter to Locke : 

« SiE : — Being of opinion that you endeavored to embroil 
me with women, and by other means, I was so much affected 
with it, as that when one told me you were sickly and would 
not live, I answered, 'T'were better if you were dead.' I de- 
sire you to forgive me this uncharitableness, for I am now sat- 
isfied that what you have done is just, and I beg your pardon 
for my having hard thoughts of you for it, and for represent- 
ing that you struck at the root of morality in a principle you 
laid in your book of ideas, and designed to pursue in another 
book, and that I took you for a Hobbist. I beg your pai-don 
also for saying »or thinking, that there was a design to sell an 
office, or to embroil me. I am vour most humble and unfor- 
tunate servant, ' Is. Newton." 

This was all imaginary, and Locke replied in a kind and 

friendly answer, to which Sir Isaac responded in October as 

follows : 

" Sir :— The last winter, by sleeping too often by my fire, I 
got an ill habit of sleeping ; and a distemper which this sum- 
mer has been epidemical, put me further out of order, so that 
when I wrote to you, I had not slept an hour a night for a 
fortnight, and for five days together not a wink. I remember 
I wrote to you, but what I said of your book I remember not. 
If you please send me a transcript of that passage, I will 
give you an account of it if I can. I am your most humble 
servant, Is. Newton." 

24 Mental Hygiene for 

A fearful illustration of the shaking of mental jDOwer from 
want of sleepy or brain rest, even in the most powerful intel- 
lects that have existed. 

There is a painful yet tender interest attached to the follow- 
ing description of the sleep of the insane, written by a patient 
in the Utica Asylum, He was a distinguished member of 
Congress during the war of 1812, but was twice confined for 
insanity, after a slip and fall down a flight of stairs, breaking 
the step exposed to the blow. In a poem, written in one of 
his dark hours, he cries in anguish — 

" Sleep, once the harbinger of calm repose, 
Is now a sea, whose ever restless tides 
Ebb to and fro, with sullen, sluggish wave ; 
Or lashed by storms, its sweeping surges break 
Around the rock-bound coast, which skirts its shores. 
Such, such is life, when filed are all its charms, 
And Hope her last retiring wing liath stretched, 
While fell Despair, on throne triumphant perched, 
Over her prostrate victim sits and smiles. 

jj: Hs * =H =t= =i= 

''Great God of Nature! Thou, and Thou alone. 
Those tuneless chords with sweeping hands canst strike, 
And rouse them still to softest harmony; 
The book of Nature open: Make its leaves 
' Hold eloquent discourse of their great Author, 
Quicken the soul in hopeless torpor sunk, 
And point the eye of Faith and Hope to Thee.' " 

You will remember that the humorous side of literature is 
full of the recognition of the blessings of sleep. 

Washington Irving tells us that of the two famous Knick- 
erbocker Governors, Walter, the Doubter, sat sixteen hours in 
his chair, smoking and sleeping, until he grew too large for it; 
whereas, William, the Testy, from his turbulent and fidgetty 
disposition, could not be found after his death. He had actu- 
ally fretted himself all away, and there was nothing left to 

Dr. Andrew McFarland says of the life that some students 
lead : " A solitary life is not only the surest preparation for 
mental disease of the most uncompromising kind, but where it 
exists from confirmed choice, may of itself be regarded as a 
species of insanity. 

The most powerful conservator of reason is the constant ex- 
ercise of the moral and mental faculties which a close relation 

Pupil axd Teacher. 25 

to society creates. Happy is the man, in this point of view, 
whose daily bread comes from the hands of those Avith whom 
he daily associates. If I were required to produce a lunatic to 
order, I would take, as the raw material, the college student, 
living alone in his bachelor hall, provided with his needle book, 
spools, and the inevitable bag of buttons. Buttons, I grant, 
are good ; but if they are simply holding together the lapels of 
coats, and are having no part in the social commerce between 
awkward dependence and quick and tender sympathy, they are 
as naught. Having thus established a social non-conductor, if I 
then could introduce into my subject some strange element of 
religious belief, some crotchet of unheard of philosophy, or 
even some oatre taste in matters of every day life, I could 
safely lay my work up to dry, confident that time would do 

the rest." 

Marriage is undoubtedly favorable to mental health, as the 
statistics of many years confirm. Dr. Johnson, of King's Col- 
lege, London, in some valuable lectures, insists upon the im- 
portance of a change of diet in nervous disease. The distin- 
guished Helmholtz has lately brought to our comprehension 
the calculations of the enormous force that has to be engen- 
dered within us. to maintain the processes of life, and such a 
force can only be supplied by nourishment or food. Food 
consists not only of organic vegetable and animal matter, but 
also of air and water, and therefore a change of air is often 
invigorating to the nervous system. It is estimated that in the 
rise 'of temperature of the body five degrees in fever, enough 
foot-pounds of force are required to lift the body one mile. 

We are but on the threshold of this subject. All nervous 
action is produced by exertion, that is waste of force, says Dr. 
Johnson. Grief, joy, despondency; these are nervous exer- 
tions. Whenever exhaustion appears, the nerve is in want of 
nourishment. Despondency is the result of incomplete nutri- 
tion of the nerves, which give way under outward pressure; 
hence the value of tonics and judicious food to restore the 
natural elasticity. There are teachers who neglect themselves 
until they are starved into illness. 

We shorten the supply of atmospheric food by bad habits 
in dress, and vitiate that in our dwellings and school rooms ; 

26 Mental Hygiene for 

we no longer secure the ptire and sparkling water in onr vil- 
lages and towns, free from organic poison; our food is affected 
by adulteration in a thousand forms, and often cooked by 
])rocesses destructive of its best qualities. After all, is it won- 
derful that innutrition has made nervous disease the scourge of 
tlie age, that the death rate of our great cities remains twenty- 
five to thirty per thousand annually, and that the spread of in- 
sanity throughthe faii'est and noblest of society demands the 
utmost efforts of the philanthropist to arrest its baleful march. 

The consequences of over-work of the brain are so vital that 
they justly demand your serious attention. At the Auburn 
meeting of the Superintendents of the insane, two years ago. 
Dr. Hughes, of St. Louis, related a case which had just occur- 
i-ed in his own practice. A young lady fell into acute mania, 
in her efforts to prepare for an examination at school. The 
first words she said when he approached were, "I cannot get 
tliese lessons;" and tlie sad refrain was often repeated, "I 
cannot get these lessons." 

She had studied often until after midnight. 

One of the most startling evidences of the truth in the stern 
law of physical retribution, is found in the late unhappy fate 
of the brilliant student of Cornell University, Emil Scliwerdt- 
feger. It has startled the press of the country into the 
inquir}^, where is the weak point in our educative system ? 

Schwerdtfeger was a poor boy, with slender health and 
stimulated brain, sent to college without preparation, by a 
benevolent friend. He soon masters the studies for admission, 
and at fifteen, gains the competitive prize for the best essay on 
"The English Vei'b." He was plied with artificial pressure, as 
the student who was especially to honor Cornell. Language 
after language was mastered. Ten hours a day he labors in 
Greek, and in three weeks' time, a learned Professor declares 
him fitted for the classical course of any college in the coun- 
try. The boy soon gives lessons as tutor in Latin, Spanish, 
German, Greek, French and Portuguese. His health fails, 
but the Inter-Collegiate Literary Association offers prizes 
before the whole Union for the best essay in Latin. The sick 
boy wins, beats his rivals, and carries off the first prize from 
all the colleges. Then, like John Stuart Mill, he falls into the 

Pupil and Teacher. 2/ 

gulf of despondency in the moment of triumph, makes his will, 
and at nineteen years, lies down in the bloody grave of the 


The younger Pitt was worn out at an eariy age, by the man- 
agement of his education by his father, the wise Earl of 
Chatham, as he was esteemed. The precocious boy, when 
staggering under his burdens, was told: " Coiirage, my son, 
ther^ is o^'nly the Cyclopedia to learn." He bore up, under 
stimulus, only to break down on the very floor of his triumphs, 
and at the moment when his country needed him most. 

In Europe, to-day, men are called to the rule of empires who 
are beyond the three-score and ten of the prophet. Disraeli, 
Derby, Thiers, Guizot, William, of Germany, Von Moltke, 
Gortschakofe, Metternich, Pius IX— think of the venerable 
years of such statesmen and rulers, when in this country at the 
early age of sixty-two, our Admiral and Generals are retired 
from service, and Judges of the Supreme Court are encouraged 
to leave the bench at seventy, by full pay for life, after that 
age, without duty. 

Why need the clock of life run down so much sooner west 
of the Atlantic ? Over- work of the clergy is frequent and 
lamentable. Too many of them have no Sabbath of rest at 
ail_forgetful to make Monday what it should be for them, a 
season of physical rest. 

Of mental over-work, Dr. Farquharson says: 
" So long as a brain-worker sleej^s well, eats well, and takes 
daily out-door exercise, he may bear almost any amount of 
steady work. It is the spasmodic effort which breaks one 
down, as a feat in gymnastics would the untrained muscles." 

It is when care and worry is added to ordinary labor, that 
sleep perhaps fails under the mental strain, then the sympa- 
thetic system brings about defects in nutrition— the appetite 
fails— the nervous tissues lose their vigor, dyspepsia, irresolu- 
tion, irritability and profound depression comes on, step by 
step, to the crisis. Either in such cases, or after the sharp out- 
break of acute fever, let the patient bear in mind that, although 
he may look well and gain flesh, it will be found that pro- 
longed efforts are no longer within his power. Let him take 

28 Mental Hygiene for 

heed to the narrower limits which nature henceforth imposes, 
or sad will be his fate. 

Literature is full of instances of destruction by over-sti-ain 
of the mind. One of the saddest will occur to you in Clare, 
the peasant poet of Helpstone. His brilliant mind, in later 
days, was reduced to the pitiful task of composing poems for 
a pipe of tobacco from the visitor who called to see the melan- 
choly wreck. 

How touching is the fate of the celebrated Davidson Sisters, 
daughters of Dr. Oliver Davidson, of Plattsburg, N. Y. 
Lucretia Maria died at the early age of seventeen, after 
writing a volume of poems, that the ponderous Quarterly 
Review praised, by the pen of Robert Southey himself. Mo.ore's 
song of " Farewell to my Harp," was her delight, yet she 
would sometimes faint on hearing its touching words. 

Her sister, Margaret Miller, wrote the tragedy of Alethea 
in two days. She died at the yet earlier age of fifteen years 
and eight months. Lucretia wrote the following, which was 
the expression of a veiy natural life-long dread: 

''There is something which I dread, 

It is a dark and fearful thing; 
It steals along with withering tread, 

And sweeps on wild destruction's wing. 
That thought comes o'er me in the hour 

Of grief, of sickness or of sadness ; 
'Tis not the dread of death— 'tis more, 

It is the dread of madness." 

I have in another lecture, upon a topic germane to this, 
written of the long line of the illustrious among men, who 
have crossed, again and again, the border-land of insanity. 

What enormous responsibility is involved in the fact that 
we are largely responsible directly for the preservation of our 

As the Rev. John Barlow, of Cambridge, says, " He who 
has given a proper direction to the intellectual force, and ob- 
tained an early command over the bodily organs, by habilita- 
ting the brain to processes of calm reason, may retain his sanity 
amid the vagaries of sense, but he who has not been the master, 
but the slave of his animal nature, listens to its dictates even 
as distorted by disease, and is mad." It will appear that since 

Pupil and Teacher. 29 

brain fever or paralysis may set in from purely mental causes, 
or great moral shock, so the same force may be exerted in pre- 
vention, within the frame, to conserve or withhold injurious 
nervous action. Steady moderate employment of mind and 
body, with cheerfulness and content, is the true amulet of 

The wonderful contrast of feeling which the same landscape 
evokes, as seen by the bright and cheery spirit, or the dark 
and gloomy misanthrope, tlie true hermit of the heart, may be 
illustrated by what two of the most famous poets of our 
mother tongue have said of a lovely morning in opening 

" Night wanes, the vapors round the mountain curled, 
Melt into morn, and light awakes the world. 
Man has another day to swell the past, 
And lead him near to little but his last, 
But mighty nature bounds as from her birth, 
The sun is in tha heavens and light on earth ; 
Gaze on, while yet thy gladdened eye may see, 
A morrow comes when they are not for thee ; 
And grieve what may, above thy senseless bier. 
Nor earth, nor sky, will yield a single tear ; 
Nor cloud shall gather more, nor leaf shall fall, 
Nor gale breathe forth one sigh for thee— for all ; 
But creeping things shall revel in their spoil, 
And fit thy clay to fertilize the soil. " 

These sombre strains, reckless and despairing, echo from 
the vaulted jjalace of the great, where George Gordon Noel 
Byron enjoys all that rank and wealth can give. 

There is another singer who sits in a lonely chamber, poor, 
blind and deserted, whose poverty constrains him to sell the 
work of years, the greatest poem of our language, for five 
poor pounds. But he is great beyond the accidents of fate. 
With that sweet content of celestial sight, that was never 
to look again upon mortal skies, he cries — 

" Now morn her rosy steps in eastern clime 
Advancing strewed the earth with orient pearl, 
When Adam waked. 

Then with voice 

Mild as when Zephyrus from Flora breathes, 
Her soft hand touching, whispered thus: Awake, 
My fairest, my espoused, my latest found. 
Heaven's last, best gift, my ever new delight. 
Awake; the morning shines, and the fresh field 
Calls us ; we lose the prime to mark how spring 

80 Mental Hygien^e fok 

Our tended plants, how blows the citron grove, 
What crops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed ; 
How Nature paints her colors, how the bee 
Sits on the bloom, extracting liquid sweets." 

Yes, we may call up happy thoughts and cheerful spirits if 
we only strongly will so to do,, and have kept the mind in due 
control. What the wondrous power of the iraagination may 
be is never realized, except in extraordinary situations. 

An illustration of the force of hallucinations with the failure 
of nervous force, is afforded by the visions of the starving, of 
which all history is full of so many instances. Thus in the 
case of coal miners buried in a mine in the valley of the Musk- 
ingum, who had been two weeks without food, Gatewood, one 
of the survivors, said: '* I thought my father came into the 
mine, holding a plate of short cake. Everything about him 
was so natural that I could not conceive it to be an imaginary 
thing, I saw the buttons on his coat, and could have sworn to 
every article of his dress, and even the length of his beard. I 
could see the yellow butter miming over the edges of the 
warm cakes. My father said to me, 'James, you are starving!' 
and having handed me the bread, turned around and walked 
out without saying another word. I could hear his steps, as 
he went out, growang fainter, I took the cake and brought it 
to my mouth, as I thought, but was brought to my senses by 
finding that I was biting my hand." 

It may be of interest, in regard to the restoration of the 
insane, to hear the following advice, given by a recovered pa- 
tient who had been five months insane: "A scrupulous at- 
tention to the laws of health, in free, pure air, abundant ex- 
ercise, suitable diet, cheerful employments, abstainence from 
exciting agencies, and habitual exercise of calm self-control, 
will generally suffice, even in persons of high nervous tempera- 
ment, to keep the vital powers in vigorous action, and hold the 
mind within the traces, A man should never become so scien- 
tific, or so sentimental, or so religious, as to forget his dinner; 
for it is far better to vegetate, or lead a merely inert animal 
life, than like a comet, to ' shoot ' madly from our spheres, to 
affright the world," 

It is in Hygiene that modern medicine has achieved her 
greatest triumphs. It is by the anticipation and prevention of 


pliyslcal ills, that tbe bodily welfare of maiikincl is to be ad- 
vanced, Maudsley, in a recent lecture to medical students in 
London, declares that already Hygiene is reducing the mortal 
diseases of the world. Two hundred years ago, London lost 
annually many citizens by the disease that deprived the world 
of Cromwell — the ague, Now, by thorough drainage, the 
damp fogs and ague disappear together. Bloody flux and 
small pox carried off myriads then, as they rarely do now. 
Plague and scurvy and spotted fever claimed yearly tributes 
of hecatombs, but they are fast becoming diseases of the past. 
He confidently predicts a day when cholera, scarlatina, epi- 
demic fever, and perhaps consumption, too, in the revolutions 
of time, will be no more. The day will dawn among enlight- 
ened people, when epidemic disease will be a reproach to any 
community in which it exists. 

In the assigned causes of insanity among the women of the 
land, how often do we find " ill health" as the reason. Poj^ular 
opinion ascribes it to family cares and troubles, or perplexities 
and anxieties, in reverses of fortune, to over-exertion and 
physical disease incident to hei' sex. 

Ascribe what influence we may to such things, how came 
these frail beings so ill-fitted for the voyage of life ? And 
who is responsible that their educations were completed with 
nervous systems over-stimulated, and undeveloped physical 
strength and vigor ? Those whose mothers are strong and 
great in womanhood, and who escape the misfortune of too 
early marriage, may survive the shock, but alas for the child 
of nervous parentage, or for her who rushes blindly into the 
cares of marriage before the body has been developed and its 
muscular strength consolidated in the stature and the likeness 
of " the perfect woman nobly planed." Let this be pondered 
deeply. While in one genei-ation the predisposing causes of 
disease cannot be overcome, it is within our power to prevent 
the exciting causes which develope the predisposition. Law 
reigns, and growth is in accordance with training. Even a 
feeble girl may be made a strong, glorious, helpful woman. 

Then, what a duty lies before us! 

To return to the demands, once more, of Mental Hygiene 
before we part, let us contemiDlate a solemn picture. What 

32 . Mental Hygiene for 

mingled feelings of reverential awe and of tender pity embalm 
the memory of Hugh Miller! The humble workman of Cro- 
marty — the great scientific teacher — the child of the fisher- 
man — the author of " Footprints of the Creator " — the great 
thinker — the pure and noble Christian — the wretched victim of 
hallucination — the unhappy suicide, who knew no other refuge 
from despair! 

Many whom I address have read that book of the heart, 
"My Schools and Schoolmasters," written some twenty-five 
years ago, in which Hugh Miller unconsciously draws his 
coming doom, while painting that faithful autobiography. 

Nearly fifty years after the event, with his wonderful 
memory, he relates what happened at five years of age. With 
his mother he lived on the coast of Scotland, and the father, a 
descendant of sea-faring men from the time of Danish invasion, 
was at sea in a fearful storm, in the midst of which the sloop 
went down, and all were lost. Let him relate the story: 

" The fatal tempest on the eastern coast of England and the 
south of Scotland, was represented in the north by but a few 
bleak sullen days, in which a heavy ground swell came rolling 
in coastwards from the east, and sent up the surf high against 
the precipices of Northern Sutor, There were no forebodings 
in the master's dwelling — for his Peterhead letter, a brief but 
hopeful missive — had been just received; and my mother was 
sitting, on the evening after, beside the household fire, plying 
the cheerful needle, when the house door, which had been left 
unfastened, fell ojjen, and I was dispatched from her side to 
shut it. 

Day had not wholly disappeared, but it was fast posting on 
to night, and a gray haze spread a neutral tint of dimness over 
every more distant object, but left the nearer ones compara- 
tively distinct, when I saw at the open door, within less than 
a yard of my breast, as plainly as I ever saw anything, a dis- 
severed hand and arm outstretched toward me. Hand and arm 
were apparently those of a female's — they were livid and 
sodden; and directly fronting me, where the body ought to 
have been, there was only blank transparent space. I was 
fearfully startled, and ran shrieking to my mother, telling 
what I had seen, and the house girl whom she next sent to shut 

PtJpiL AND Teacher. 33 

the door, returned affected by my terror. Finally, my mother 
going to the door, saw nothing, though she appeared much im- 
pressed by the extremeness of my terror and the minuteness of 
my description. I communicate the story as it lies iixed in my 
memory, without any attempt to explain it. The supposed 
apparition may have been merely a momentary affection of the 
eye of the nature described by Sir Walter Scott in his De- 
monology. Its coincidence with the probable time of my 
father's death, seems at least curious." 

These are the Avords that betray the latent superstition of 
his Norse ancestry. The wise scholar, the clear-headed in- 
structor, the eminent master of geology, the eloquent teacher 
of a nation, was but a child again when the phantoms of the 
brain arose to affright his stout heart. As he grows on to 
manhood, he lives much alone, in solitary wanderings, and sur- 
renders himself to the control of imagination. Over the work- 
bench of the mason, he is lost in fits of absence of mind and 
absolute somnambulism. In a few months he destroys the 
nails from no less than seven of his fingers, perhaps in some 
hallucination of the mind, left to roam amid vagaries, one of 
which was his skepticism of revealed truth. Later in life, a 
happy change awaits him. He travels ; he mingles with other 
minds, reflects and discusses, enters into the social relations of 
life, describes facts as he finds them, is taken up with business, 
and best of all, finds a resting place for his unquiet soul, in the 
assurance of a profound religious faith. For many years the 
hapi^y tenor of his Avay kept in harmony all his powers, great 
as they were, and honored throughout the world. 

But, alas, there is a third act of the tragedy! 

The compact muscular frame and air of exuberant health he 
possessed, during the days of his best balanced intellectual 
efforts, passed away by degrees, as he gradually involved him- 
self in tlieological controversy from the editorial chair, for 
which he abandoned his former life. Growing abstracted in 
the profound generalizations he was discovering, amid geo- 
logical chaos, he utterly neglected exercise and sleep and food, 
and regimen of the body in any sense. Hallucinations returned 
to the over-tasked brain, sleep-walking, distrust and suspicion 
of all the world, dread of his best friends, wrapped him in a 

34 Mental Hygiene for 

gloom that pen of man cannot describe; and one morning, the 
midnight toiler, at whose feet millions had learned that God's 
works and God's words are one, was found at the silent library, 
with the gray hairs of his fifty j^ears dabbled in his life-blood. 
No eye had seen, no arm had been near to save, when the out- 
raged body rose, like slave upon its master, to slay in one last 
struggle ! 

I would not sadden you with this heart-rending page, but 
there is an especial lesson to be drawn from its melancholy 
record, for you whom I address to-night. It is not without 
peril that your speaker can be frank enough to say this, but by 
virtue of my office as a jDhysician, I dare to speak as a friend. 

Hugh Miller had no consciousness of his danger — he writes 
that no hallucination ever visited him again, after his early 
terror in the fatal tempest. His fascinating book, " My Schools 
and School-masters," is really a modestly veiled picture of the 
power and grandeur of self-culture. He had been a self-made 
man. Ah, Heaven help the self-made man, who has relied 
only upon his own brain and his own will! He is but half- 
made, and sometimes feed like hunger upon his own mind. 

How poetical are the college essays upon self-culture — how 
fascinating to the young teacher the picture of the great self- 
made scholars — intellectual Titans, with only earth for a 
mother. The solitary walks, the abstract studies, the over- 
loading of memory, the wanderings of unconfined imagination 
in lonely communings — what do these leave when long pur- 
sued, but morbid men of unequal mental force — giant on one 
side, child on the other. It was when St. Jerome withdrew to 
the desert, that tlie tortures of his visions came. The king- 
dom of a Robinson Crusoe is but a Lilliput after all. 

True self-culture demands association in kindly sympathy 
with your fellow-man. The day-light of investigation and dis- 
cussion must be thrown upon your stores of learning. See 
what other men know. Reflect and weigh and compare as 
well as read and memorize. Learn how others marshal and 
arrange the crude facts that fill your minds. Above all, invite 
the pure, fresh breezes of love to fellow-man to blow away 
morbid fogs and vapors of vanity, or of selfishness, that are 
wont to gather about the common type of the self-made man. 

PuriL AMD Teacher. 


Cbarles Dickens once said, that he saw the extremity of hu- 
man woe in the face of a prisoner condemned to solitary con- 
finement in the Penitentiary of Pennsylvania. Leave not your 
mind to solitary confinement. Let the sweet spirit of broth- 
erly love gentleness, interest in homely things, paternal aftec- 
tion for the pupils who look to you as master, enter as the 
ministrants of the charities of life. Then will you take away 
the only reproach that has been cast upon the teacher— that he 
forgets the actual to become the visionary. 

It is a matter of public gratitude that through formal 
Schools, our teachers are to be linked together in the great 
work of self-culture. It is not meet indeed that man should 
be alone. If there sliould be one whose opportunities of in- 
struction here in this noble enterprise, should deprive him of 
the poor boast, some day, that he is self-made, let him reflect 
that if he has a healthy body, a sympathetic heart, and a bal- 
anced and rounded intellect, better even than self-made-I say 
it reverently, it is to be God-made-to be built m body and 
mind in obedience to our Creator's laws, and in His likeness. 

Teachers of North Carolina, I have addressed you both as 
parents and instructors. In many sections of the State, you 
must be truly missionaries. It will often be your duty to teach 
parent as well as child. How much hangs upon the perform- 
ance of your part. It is your mighty privilege absolutely to 
make the history of the coming generation. We have scanned 
together the dark side of life. But bright and glorious will 
be your reward, if it fall to your lot to lead the young away 
from the paths that take hold xipon darkness up the cdesttat 
peace and strength of mental hQ-;x\th and «?,ora/ beauty. 

Shall I point you to a grand examplar, whose arm kept a 
million of men at bay through the smoke of a hundred battle 
fields, and then when Hope furled her flags forever, buried his 
country's sorrow and his own grief in his bosom, to teach the 
children of the men he had lead-more towering m moral 
greatness at Lexington than at Chancellorsville-whose mighty 
heart when it broke at last, left his memory a gift to all 
humanity. Of him the orator has said : 

"When the future historian comes to survey his character, 
heAviUfindit rising like a huge mountain above the undu- 

36 Mental Hygiene for Pupil and Teacher. 

lating plain of humanity, and he will have to lift his eyes to- 
ward Heaven to c^tch its summit. He possessed every virtue 
of the great commanders, without their vices. He was a Caesar, 
without his ambition; a Frederick, without his tyrany ; a Na- 
poleon, without his selfishness ; and a Washington, without 

" He was as obedient to authority as a servant, and as loyal 
in authority as a true king. 

" He was gentle as a woman in life ; modest and pure as a 
virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vestal in duty, sub- 
missive to law as Socrates, and grand in battle as Achilles." 

This was the man who, as he watched the last struggle of a 
handful of men, in the final hour, cried, " God bless JVorth 
Carolina .-"' 

Need I say it was Robert E. Lee. ^